The Turkmen Ministry of Foreign Affairs (MFA) published an editorial on the government website outlining its vision for a "European vector" or the inclusion of the European Union in the diversification of energy sales among various customers. The MFA hinted that there were "complex geopolitical processes under way," an indirect reference to its diminished relationship with Russia and new friendship with China. While once Russia purchased 50 billion cubic meters of gas from Turkmenistan, with the global recession and downturn in demand, Gazprom began reducing the gas pumped from Turkmenistan and then had a dispute with Ashgabat over a pipeline explosion in 2009 that is still unresolved. Ultimately, after not coming to an agreement on prices, Russia reduced its delivery to 10 bcm, and China moved into the gap, providing nearly $10 billion in soft loans to construct a pipeline to China slated eventually to deliver at least 30 bcm.
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Catherine A. Fitzpatrick compiles the Turkmenistan weekly roundup for EurasiaNet. She is also editor of EurasiaNet's Sifting the Karakum blog. To subscribe to the weekly email with a digest of international and regional press, write firstname.lastname@example.org